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Rebels claim shock victory over Blues

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The Melbourne Rebels defeated the Blues 10-20 at Eden Park, Auckland and go top of the Australian Conference.

This is the Blues’ first defeat in 12 matches against Australian opposition, and only the second victory for an Aussie team over New Zealand opposition, this season.

Billy Meakes grabbed a double and Dane Hylette-Petty also crossed the whitewash as the Rebels completed their first win at the famous ground.

The victory is the Melbourne side’s third on the bounce and seventh of the season, equaling their best Super Rugby win tally.

It was only their second ever win in the land of the long white cloud in Super Rugby.

Terrence Hepetema scored the Blues only try in what was another poor performance by Tana Umaga’s team.

The Rebels dominated territory and possession, enjoying almost 70 percent in both statistics.

Their tackle count was half that of the Blues, who somehow stayed the distance.

Stephen Perofeta’s sixth-minute penalty gave the home team a 3-nil lead.

But it was the visitors who were making all the running, using the ball well and working their way into the red zone.

They struck in the 12th-minute through the battering ram that is Meakes after a 10-phase attack and first foray into enemy territory.

Michael Ruru attacked the gain-line, held off a defender before his exquisite backdoor offload put the centre away, under the posts.

It took a bit of good fortune for the Blues to get their only try of the match.

Ruru’s box-kick was charged down near halfway by Akira Ioane.

Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, alone at the breakdown, stole the ball and set up an attack inside the 22.

Augustine Pulu’s stray pass was picked up by Perofeta.

The first-five threw a long pass to Hepetema, who found himself in space between Marika Koroibete and prop Fereti Sa’aga.

He saw the gap, and holding the ball in one hand like a loaf of bread, took it, beating the big men to the whitewash.

Scoring five minutes before and after halftime is a New Zealand staple.

However, it was the Aussies who, instead of wilting, struck a blow, either side of the break, themselves.

With a minute remaining before the interval, they re-took their hard-fought lead.

Another multi-phase attack saw the Rebels shift the ball quickly, keeping it alive between backs and forwards as they stretched the defenders.

Colby Fainga’a drew the defenders and sent Dane Haylett-Petty away.

The fullback beat the cover tackle and strolled in for the score.

It took less than three minutes for the visitors to score after halftime.

The Rebels had found space in the outside channels, easy to come by.

Jack Maddocks, joining the line, sent a beautifully weighted grubber-kick in behind the flat defenders.

The ball sat up kindly for Koroibete, who gathered, drew Michael Collins and sent the supporting Meakes away for his second.

It was champagne rugby from David Wessels’ team.

His side never let-up, and they extended their lead to 10 points with a Reece Hodge long-range monster, before the hour.

It was the last points for the Melbourne men.

They did more than enough to see off the rag-tag Blues, who were kept scoreless since the 37th-minute.

The game ended in farce.

Collins, trying to run the last play from his own try-line, threw a pass behind a team-mate to nobody.

The ball rolled over the dead-ball line and was booted by Thomas Faiane, in disgust, into the stands.

Dismal stuff from the Aucklanders.

Blues versus Melbourne Rebels video highlights.

Final score: Blues 10 (10) Rebels 20 (12)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Hepetema
Pen – Perofeta
Con – Perofeta
Drop –
Cards –

Rebels
Tries – Meakes (2), D. Haylett-Petty
Pen – Hodge
Con – Hodge
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues

15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Tumua Manu, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Thomas Faiane.

Melbourne Rebels

15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Tayler Adams, 23 Lopeti Timani.

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